A fortnightly Green Bulletin of News, Action and Analysis
GOVERNMENT BY GOOGLE?
Green Party Security and Intelligence Spokesperson Keith Locke said on 16 August that he was worried about “government by Google” in the case of Rayed Mohammed Abdullah Ali, the Yemeni flying student deported from New Zealand on May 30 because of his alleged links with September 11 bombers.
“Immigration Minister David Cunliffe had indicated in his reply to my June 29 written question that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade made enquiries as to Mr Ali’s whereabouts and access to his family. Yesterday, nearly seven weeks later, I found out in a letter from Mr Cunliffe that no information has come back through Ministry channels. Mr Cunliffe noted however, “that a recent report on a CBS News website indicates that Mr Ali has recently been released.’
“This information seemed wrong, from the outset…Even worse, much of the New Zealand government’s case against Rayed Ali seems to have been constructed on misleading ‘googled’ information. A Google search brings up the 9/11 Commission report, with a line accusing Mr Ali of giving ‘extremist speeches’ in a Phoenix mosque. This is included in New Zealand Immigration’s dossier against Mr Ali and doesn’t seem to have been checked – although the New Zealand media have, subsequently, discredited the accusation….when can we expect to see the New Zealand authorities resort to something more reliable than web surfing?”
More details at
WAR DAMAGE THAT LASTS FOR GENERATIONS
is the legacy of the toxic substances used as weapons against local populations by invading and occupying powers in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The toxins also affect the frontline troops doing the invading and occupying. In the 1960s and 70s the toxic cocktail ‘Agent Orange’, which contains deadly dioxin, was sprayed widely over Vietnam and its borders with neighbouring countries. From the 1990s weapons containing Depleted Uranium (DU) began to be used — in former Yugoslavia, in Iraq, and now in Lebanon. Both Agent Orange and DU cause harmful genetic mutations which can be passed on to the children and grandchildren born to those exposed.
The Green Party continues to push for compensation to NZ veterans exposed to Agent Orange, and would like to see DU weapons banned.
EVIDENCE SHOWS COMPENSATION JUSTIFIED.
On 28 July Green Party Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley said that a Massey University study that links definite DNA damage to war veterans exposed to Agent Orange shows the Government should reconsider its position on paying compensation to those affected.
Sue said the Government should consider this new information in alongside the yet to be published report of the Joint Working Group into the Concerns of Vietnam Veterans and rethink its present stance of not paying veterans compensation specifically for effects of exposure to Agent Orange.
“This study indicates these men have suffered irreversible effects from their exposure to the defoliant during their time in Vietnam. “It is time the Government acknowledged this and gave the veterans the compensation they have been seeking,” Sue said.
“I also believe that further studies must be conducted into the effects this exposure has had on the children, grandchildren and future generations of the veterans.”
For news on world affairs, and the situation in the Middle East in particular, which you are unlikely to see printed in an NZ newspaper, check out
WEST PAPUA – A NATIONAL SPEAKING TOUR
by the Rev Socratez Sofyan Yoman.
The Reverend Socratez Sofyan Yoman is the President of the Communion of Baptist Churches West Papua. In the last eight years, Reverend Yoman has taken an increasingly high profile as a campaigner for peace, justice and human rights in West Papua.
He has briefed Australian, UK and European parliamentarians as well as UN representatives about West Papua, and he has written 5 books on West Papua. More about Rev Yoman and his soeaking tour can be found at
and the talks and meetings he will be involved in from today are given below.
Thursday, 24 August, Tauranga
‘West Papua: the hidden Pacific conflict’, Pax Christi and Amnesty International, by courtesy of the Indonesian Human Rights Committee, West Papuan Human Rights Advocate and author, Socratez Sofyan Yoman,President Communion of Baptist Churches of West Papua – 7pm, at St Mary’s Catholic Church, corner Cameron Road and Elizabeth Street; for more information contact Peter tel 574 0976.
Saturday, 26 August, Whanganui
Pot-luck dinner followed by address by Rev Yoman and conversation on the situation in West Papua, 6pm at the Baptist Central, 285 Wicksteed Street.
Monday, 28 August, Wellington
‘West Papua: Justice, Peace and Human Rights’, a public talk by Rev Socratez Sofyan Yoman, 5.30pm at the Wellington Central Baptist Church, 46-48 Boulcott Street.
Tuesday, 29 August, Wellington
‘Focus on West Papua’, Pacific Studies, Va’aomanu Pasifika presents a talk by Reverend Socratez Sofyan Yoman, from 12 noon to 1.30pm, Seminar Room, 6 Kelburn Parade, Victoria University of Wellington. All welcome, please bring your lunch. For more information contact Teresia Teaiwa, Pacific Studies, Va’aomanu Pasifika.
Thursday, 31 August, Dunedin
Public meeting, 7:30pm at the Holy Name Parish Centre, 420 Great King Street.
Monday, 4 September, Christchurch
‘West Papua: the hidden Pacific conflict’ public meeting, 7:30 pm at Knox Hall, 28 Bealey Avenue (corner Victoria Street and Bealey Ave).
A CALL FOR PEACE — AND AN END TO WAR CRIMES – IN LEBANON.
On August 1st Green Party Foreign Affairs spokesperson Keith Locke made this speech in Parliament on the current situation in the Middle East.
”The people of New Zealand and people around the world have been sickened by what they see happening to Lebanon today. I think it is important for us, as a small, moral country that has stood up in favour of our nuclear-free policy against the United States in that respect, and that has stood up for principle, to cast its weight on the side of peace and ending the suffering that is happening today to the people of Lebanon and Israel, and to the people in Gaza. We should follow the example of some other small countries that are about the same size as us, like Norway, that have made a special purpose of being peacemakers. Norway is engaged across the world in peacemaking. It has been engaged in the Middle East, not always successfully, but we should try to do that.
If we speak out loudly and clearly to tell the truth about what is happening in Lebanon, our voice will resonate around the world, because it will be in contrast to many of the other powerful countries whose voices are somewhat muted-countries that are not really telling things as they are. Even worse, of course, the most powerful nation, the United States, through its Government is backing Israel’s murderous assault on the Lebanese people and refusing the calls for a ceasefire. Basically, it is saying there will be no ceasefire until the whole of south Lebanon has been flattened and all its people evacuated-that is, those who have not been killed or wounded in the meantime.
We have seen on TV exactly what that assault means. In the town of Qana a couple of days ago we saw 54 people slaughtered – 37 of them children – in an Israeli air raid. Just as shocking to me as that sad sight of babies being pulled out of the ruins was the shots of the town itself. I think it was a town of about 10,000 people originally. It seemed, from the TV images, that the whole town had been destroyed. People, over generations, had built up a livelihood in that town, and now, in a couple of weeks, their town has been totally destroyed and they have been forced out.
Of course, there is talk from the Israeli authorities and the American authorities about there being “collateral damage” in war. But what we saw there was not collateral damage. I think New Zealand has to be at the forefront of the world in saying that what Israel is committing in Lebanon today are war crimes. People who commit war crimes will ultimately be brought before the World Court and convicted. That is what must happen to the leaders of Israel in the future. They must know that now. The whole point of setting up an International Criminal Court is to stop people doing what the Israeli Government is doing, and to tell them that they will be brought to justice if they do.
It is quite clear that war crimes is the appropriate term to use, because in the Rome treaty, which is part of our legislation-it is appended to our legislation setting up the International Criminal Court 4 years ago-war crimes are listed. One of the crimes listed in that document is “attacking or bombarding, by whatever means towns, villages, dwellings or buildings which are undefended and which are not military objectives;”.
That is exactly what Israel is doing in south Lebanon, east Lebanon, and the southern suburbs of Beirut today. A second war crime in our legislation is: “Intentionally launching an attack in the knowledge that such an attack will cause incidental loss of life or injury to civilians … clearly excessive in relation to the concrete and direct overall military advantage anticipated;” which is exactly what Israel is doing in its widespread and extensive bombing in south Lebanon today. Of course, Hezbollah is also guilty of war crimes, under that definition, by sending its rockets into towns like Haifa in Israel. But we have to state these facts.
What the Israeli Government officials are saying is quite horrific. For instance, Israeli army spokesperson Captain Jacob Dallal was quoted in the New Zealand Herald last week: “In the war on terror in general, it’s not just about hitting an army base, which they don’t have, or a bunker. It is also about undermining their ability to operate … That ranges from incitement on television and radio … and … grass-roots institutions that breed more followers, more terrorists …”. Grassroots institutions such as orphanages, schools, and aid centres are being bombed by the Israelis today as part of war and as a deliberate policy, and that is a war crime. A headline in Saturday’s New Zealand Herald was: “You are ALL targets, Israel says”. According to that article, Israel’s Justice Minister, Haim Ramon, “warned that the area” – south Lebanon – “would now become effectively a free fire zone and anyone found in it would be regarded as a target, and advocated bombing villages to make the advance of land forces easier. ‘These places are not villages.’ he said. ‘They are military bases in which Hizbollah are hiding and from which they are operating.’ ” Under that justification, the whole of south Lebanon is being destroyed. We must say what it is – it is a war crime.
We as a Government have to do a number of things – tell it like it is; call for an unconditional, immediate ceasefire; join those nations that are calling for that; and join the UN leaders who are calling for a ceasefire in south Lebanon, Gaza, and the West Bank. They are telling Israel to stop all its attacks, and, of course, telling the Palestinian forces and Hezbollah to stop their attacks, as well.
Thirdly, we should be pushing for negotiations on the immediate and long-term issues in those conflicts in Lebanon, Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, and engaging all the parties. This means we must accept Hezbollah and Hamas as parties to those negotiations. That is an essential thing that New Zealand should not flinch from pushing for. There cannot be a peace settlement unless all the parties to the conflict are engaged in that peace settlement.
Fourthly, it is good that Helen Clark has talked about New Zealand perhaps having a role in peacekeeping over there. We can help. Unfortunately, the Israeli Government does not really seem to be interested in genuine peacekeeping. There has been for a long time a call from Palestinians for an international force to be put in the West Bank and Gaza. That has always been turned down by Israel. Israel seems to want a pliant, so-called international force in Lebanon, like the pliant South Lebanon Army, which was a pro-Israeli force that occupied south Lebanon in the 1980s and 1990s and totally failed. A critical thing about peacekeeping is that any force that goes in to Lebanon must fully recognise the sovereignty of that State and not go in without Lebanon’s full agreement and cooperation. Not to do so is the road to disaster.
It is not anti-Israeli to say the things I have been saying. A week ago on Saturday, somewhere between 2,500 and 5,000 Israelis, both Jewish and Arab, marched through Tel Aviv calling for peace, an end to the Israeli bombardment, and an immediate ceasefire. It is very pro-Israeli to call for an immediate ceasefire.
We have to take an approach to the conflict in the Middle East that respects all the ethnicities and cultures of that area. What we should do is relevant to the speech made by Don Brash on core values and bedrock values. He did not accept that all cultures have values that we must respect, but that is what we must apply to the Middle East situation today.”
THE ENDURING WAR CRIME OF DU.
The Israeli Committee for a Middle East Free from Atomic, Biological & Chemical Weapons put out a press release on August 5 saying that the Government of Israel has recently purchased from the United States bunker-busting bombs (GBU-28), for use in its war in Lebanon.
These bombs contain depleted uranium – a carcinogenic substance that spreads in the form of a toxic and radioactive dust, which enters the lungs and bones and is especially harmful to babies and young children.
The Committee called on the Government of Israel not to make use of these bombs, saying that the call was of special significance coming on the eve of August 6, the anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
”The State of Israel must not resort to the use of weaponry that can cause environmental damage lasting hundreds of years, or any weapon of mass destruction,” the Committee said. ”We call on the Government Israel and all the governments in the Middle East to renounce weapons of mass destruction without delay! A Middle East free from all weapons of mass destruction would be the best guarantee against their use.”
CLUSTER WEAPONS IN LEBANON.
The Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) reports that the Israeli government has announced that it is reserving the right to use cluster bombs in its current intervention in Lebanon . Cluster bombs or shells scatter scores of bomblets, or submunitions, over a wide area, typically the size of one or two football fields. These can be dropped by aircraft, or fired by artillery or rocket launchers.
The use of cluster munitions, particularly in populated areas, violates the prohibition on indiscriminate attacks contained in international humanitarian law, as argued by organisations such as Human Rights Watch. Depending on which type of submunition is used, between about five and twenty per cent or more cluster bomblets fail to explode. They are then left behind as explosive remnants of war, posing a threat to civilians similar to anti-personnel landmines.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported that Israeli forces fired artillery cluster shells on the Lebanese village of Blida last month. According to HRW, the type of cluster munition likely to have been used in this attack is the M483A1 Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions, which are U.S.-produced and -supplied, artillery-delivered cluster munitions.
Southern Lebanon has already been affected by cluster bombs and landmines in the past. Israel also used cluster munitions in Lebanon most notably between 1978 and 1982. The Lebanese population is still suffering from this situation. Despite the mine clearance operations conducted, civilians are still wounded on a regular basis during accidents involving these weapons.
A detailed analyses, conducted by Human Rights Watch, of the U.S. military’s use of cluster munitions in Iraq found that the use of cluster munitions in populated areas in Iraq caused more civilian casualties than any other factor in the U.S.-led coalition’s conduct of major military operations in March and April 2003, killing and wounding more than 1,000 Iraqi civilians.
According to Kenneth Roth (Executive Director of HRW): “Our research in Iraq and Kosovo shows that cluster munitions cannot be used in populated areas without huge loss of civilian life – Israel must stop using cluster bombs in Lebanon at once.”
JustPeace is produced by Christine Dann, Hannah Scott and Keith Locke, MP
JustPeace has been sent to you as you have expressed interest in Green Party Peace, Defence or Foreign Affairs information. If you do NOT wish to receive JustPeace, please reply to this message with the word ”Remove” in the body of the e-mail.
If you have feedback on the content of JustPeace, or news items, please e-mail
christine [dot] dann
clear [dot] net [dot] nz
Previous issues of JustPeace are archived at